via Zisco, Essar deal still on — Bimha – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 31, 2015
Government and Essar Africa Holdings are still committed to the revival of the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Ziscosteel) and a board of directors is being put in place to steer the ship, Industry minister Mike Bimha has said.
BY Stephen Chadenga
Bimha said his ministry was engaging Essar to map the best way forward for the resuscitation of the company.
Government and Essar struck a $750 million deal in 2011 with the investor agreeing to take over Ziscosteel’s foreign debt, which amounted to $300 million, and to share the domestic debt with government, which totalled $72 million at the time.
“Government and the investor are still engaging and next Monday we have a meeting,” Bimha said at the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries congress in Gweru. He, however, conceded that the volatile international market, which has witnessed the decline of iron ore prices, had also impacted on the fast reopening of the steel maker.
“The prices of iron and steel have gone down and as you know them, investors will always be investors,” Bimha said.
“But let me reassure you that despite whatever happens, we want to ensure Zisco reopens and there is no going back on that.”
The Industry minister revealed that his office was inundated with investors who wanted to invest in the company. Ziscosteel, now New Zimsteel, used to be considered Africa’s largest steel manufacturer before it collapsed in 2008.
The company also owes workers more than $100 million in salary arreas.